On Survival and Education: An Academic’s Perspective on Disability
When illness and disability strike, it can seem as though one’s very being is threatened. We tend to consider illness a temporary situation, a phase, a phase that will be done with, sooner or later, and the victim of the attack will be rectified, and will survive it. But in chronic illness, there is a gap, a missing piece that cannot be found, despite all attempts. This is not necessarily a loss, as to claim that there is a loss falls into dangerous territory of positing a once complete or whole body and/or self. The losses are not due to a changing body, but rather discriminatory disablement by society’s understandings of disability. When bodies begin to falter, painful experiences of embodiment and how we experience the world begin to emerge. But to survive is to live through, live with, or live without something. To survive is to also be resilient to any losses. To be a survivor is to have been on the threshold of non-surviving, to have considered giving up, letting go – to allow for a break, a rupture from resilience.